Wheatland County solar panels will not recoup their investment within their lifespan

·2 min read

A report presented to Wheatland County Council, June 1, suggested the solar panels installed on the county administration building will not return the installation investment within their estimated lifetime.

Prepared by manager of technical services Bryce Mackan, the report estimates the payback period for the initial investment by the county will be approximately 40 years.

A contract to install the 60kW solar PV System on the administration building was awarded to Skyfire Energy Inc in September 2016. The project was subsequently completed on October 31, 2016.

Division 4 councillor Tom Ikert said the project serves as a lesson to county council not to invest in similar projects in the future, should they be presented.

“There’s lots of [information] out there… about how good they are, how bad they are, and all that kind of stuff.

“My philosophy is, if you want to put solar panels on your house, that is fine and dandy… but when government does it, government… should not have the ability to spend money they’ve stolen from the taxpayer… on stuff that is not 100 per cent a good use,” he said.

The cost of the installation totalled $118,790, of which 20 per cent was covered by the Alberta Municipal Solar program. The cost to the county totaled $95,032.

Since activation, the panels have generated 249.58 MWh of electricity which has saved the county $12,716.10.

Though Ikert does not believe the project to have been a waste of taxpayer dollars, he said it’s not something a government body should be investing in.

“The government shouldn’t be doing stuff that the private sector should be doing.

“If the county of Wheatland proposes to spend any more taxpayer money on any more solar panels, I will be vehemently against it. That money could have— should have, been spent elsewhere more wisely,” he explained.

If the current numbers remain consistent through the lifespan of the solar panels and they continue to function as they have since installation, they are expected to pay themselves off in the year 2057.

The Times reached out to Wheatland County Reeve Amber Link for comment, but did not receive a response prior to publication.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times

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